William Langson Lathrop was an American Impressionist landscape artist credited with forming the artist colony in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Born in Warren, Illinois in 1859, Lathrop’s life began on a farm surrounded by nature. After his completion of high school in 1874, he moved to New York City to study art. He ended his studies after only a brief time and entered the United States Naval Academy. Failing to thrive at the school, Lathrop decided to move back home to Illinois to teach and continue farming as he did in his youth. It wasn’t until the early 1880’s that he landed a position at Harper’s where he was employed as a graphic artist. In 1886, he traveled to France, Holland and England, trying to avoid the larger cities in favor of the countryside. He return and began showing a small watercolor in the late 1890s which brought him his first award, the Evan’s Prize in New York Color Club, and brought him considerable fame. He then exhibited in his first public exhibition at the Society of American Artists and won the Webb Prize in 1899. He lived in New York City with John Twachtman (1853–1902), another landscape artist, before moving to New Hope, Pennsylvania in the early twentieth century. In New Hope, he established a studio and began teaching artists, as well as founded the first art colony in the city in 1916.
His simplistic style began in a tonalist style with darker hues and moved toward the Impressionist style with lighter and warmer tones. Before his tragic death in a hurricane in the Atlantic in 1938, William Lathrop composed many simple landscape compositions, keeping with the essential elements of earth, sky and some trees. With many of his paintings completed outside in the plein air style, they allude the true essence of nature in a simplistic way.